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Netanyahu Rebukes Israeli Rival Ahead of Washington Trip

Abir Sultan/Pool/AFP via Getty
Abir Sultan/Pool/AFP via Getty

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused a top Israeli cabinet official of effectively undermining him for coming to the U.S. on an unauthorized trip for war talks, widening the rift between Israel and the U.S. over the direction of the war in Gaza.

Netanyahu told Benny Gantz, a political rival who joined the cabinet following the Oct. 7 attack, that Israel has “just one prime minister,” a source told the Associated Press. Gantz is scheduled to meet with Vice President Kamala Harris and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Monday, along with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday.

Official Says Israel Must ‘Strike First’ in ‘Inevitable’ War in Second Country

Netanyahu’s allies fear Gantz’s trip risks undercutting the prime minister’s positions on the war, and the Israeli embassy was ordered to boycott Gantz upon his arrival, according to the Financial Times. The U.S. meanwhile believes Gantz represents a better barometer of where Israel’s citizens stand on the war effort and a potential two-state solution, according to the Times.

The visit also allows the U.S., on American soil, to directly impress upon an Israeli government official its desire for the fighting to end. A White House official told NPR that Harris “will reiterate civilian casualties must be reduced” and "the importance of creating a hopeful political horizon for the Palestinian people” once the fighting eventually ends.

The last week continued a precarious saga in the war as representatives met in Egypt to broker a ceasefire—all while more than 100 Palestinians were killed while trying to get food from a convoy. Hamas has blamed Israeli troops for shooting them, while Israel maintained that people had trampled over each other. The U.S. has since airdropped more than 38,000 meals into the country, joining other nations such as the U.K. and France.

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